The 'Human Side' of Open Innovation: The Role of Employee Diversity in Firm-Level Openness

44 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2017 Last revised: 5 Aug 2018

See all articles by Marcel Bogers

Marcel Bogers

University of Copenhagen - Department of Food and Resource Economics (IFRO)

Nicolai J. Foss

Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology

Jacob Lyngsie

Copenhagen Business School - Department of Strategic Management and Globalization

Date Written: October 30, 2017

Abstract

The use of external knowledge for innovation (i.e., inbound or outside-in open innovation) has received substantial attention in the innovation literature. However, the “human side” of open innovation is still poorly understood. We consider the role of employee characteristics with respect to predicting firm-level openness. Drawing on the human capital, learning and creativity literature, we theorize that knowledge diversity of the firm’s employees is positively associated with employees’ ability to identify and absorb external knowledge, which aggregates to increased firm-level openness—that is, firms’ use of external knowledge in their pursuit of innovation. Based on a combination of three data sources, namely, two survey data sources and register data, we find support for our hypothesis that employees’ educational diversity is positively associated with firm-level openness. However, we find no direct association between employees’ work history diversity and firm-level openness but rather—as also hypothesized—a conditional relationship based on educational background, which implies that diverse work history only has a positive impact at higher levels of educational diversity. To reduce endogeneity concerns, we undertake a series of robustness checks.

Keywords: open innovation; human capital; diversity; employees; education; microfoundations

JEL Classification: L24, O31, O32

Suggested Citation

Bogers, Marcel and Foss, Nicolai J. and Lyngsie, Jacob, The 'Human Side' of Open Innovation: The Role of Employee Diversity in Firm-Level Openness (October 30, 2017). Research Policy, Volume 47, Issue 1, February 2018, Pages 218-231, DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2017.10.012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3061989

Marcel Bogers (Contact Author)

University of Copenhagen - Department of Food and Resource Economics (IFRO) ( email )

Unit for Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management
Rolighedsvej 25
Copenhagen, 1958
Denmark

Nicolai J. Foss

Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, MI 20136
Italy

Jacob Lyngsie

Copenhagen Business School - Department of Strategic Management and Globalization ( email )

Porcelænshaven 24
Frederiksberg, 2000
Denmark

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